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On our way to 2020

Partners are critical to the success of a complete and accurate count in 2020. Do you know why the 2020 Census matters? Do you know how participating can help your community? Learn more here.

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What is a census and why is it important?

Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.

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Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. People in your community use census data in all kinds of ways, such as these:

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Residents use the census

Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

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Businesses use Census Bureau data

Businesses use Census Bureau data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and these create jobs.

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Local government officials use the census

Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals.

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Real estate developers and city planners use the census

Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.

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The next census is coming in 2020. Counting an increasingly diverse and growing population is a massive undertaking. It requires years of planning and the support of thousands of people.

Ultimately, the success of the census depends on everyone’s participation. The Census Bureau depends on cross-sector collaborations with organizations and individuals to get people to participate.

The 2020 Census is important for you and your community, and you can help.

Learn more about the 2020 Census.

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What should I know about the 2020 Census?

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In an ever changing environment, partners are the trusted voices that help address our most pressing challenges, such as:

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Constrained fiscal environment

Budget deficits place significant pressure on funding available for the research, testing, design, and development work required for successful innovation.

Rapidly changing use of technology

Stakeholders expect the decennial census to use technology innovation, yet the rapid pace of change makes it challenging to plan for and adequately test the use of these technologies before they become obsolete.

Declining response rates

Response rates for Census Bureau surveys, and for surveys and censuses in general, have declined as citizens are overloaded with requests for information and become increasingly concerned about sharing information.

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Increasingly diverse population

The demographic and cultural make-up of the United States continues to increase in complexity, resulting in a growing number of households and individuals who do not speak English as their native language, who have a wide variety of cultural traditions and mores, and who may have varying levels of comfort with government involvement.

A mobile population

The United States continues to be a highly mobile nation — population moves and continued growth in the use of mobile technology can also complicate enumeration. Societal, demographic, and technological trends can result in a population that is harder and more expensive to enumerate as it becomes more challenging to locate individuals and solicit their participation through traditional methods.

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There are a variety of reasons people don’t participate in the decennial census, and tailoring your outreach strategy can make your work much more effective. To help you do this, we put together a guide identifying the most common barriers to participation and providing research-driven outreach approaches to address them.

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"I don't think the census
has any impact
on my life"

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"I don't trust
the government
with my information"

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"I have trouble
completing the
census forms"

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"I don't have time
to fill out
the census"

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The Community Outreach Toolkit includes an overview of top behaviorally informed messaging strategies and profiles for each of the most common barriers with relevant messages, influential messengers, and appropriate timing and methods.

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Learn more about your community

Use this Census data tool to learn more about the community you work with.

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The countdown to the 2020 Census has begun! Partners are now planning their awareness, education and outreach efforts leading up to the next census to support a complete and accurate count. This planning timeline can serve as a resource as you begin.


This is the time for everyone who wants to work toward a complete and accurate count to start getting involved.



Make sure that people know what the census is and how census data are used.

Start using census data in your own organization.

Learn about the barriers to participation.



Get out in your community and make sure that people know why it’s important to take the census and who should be taking it.

Dispel myths and allay fears.



Encourage your community to take the census!

Make sure they know when to expect the survey, how to fill it out, and how to make sure they are counted.

Provide language assistance, answer FAQs, and motivate!

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